This column appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Word Weaver.
The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column
by Dorothea Helms
When it comes to freelance writing, a little lateral thinking goes a long way. Open your mind to out-of-the-box ideas, and you can come up with out-of-the-ordinary ways to boost your bottom line.
First, consider your writing. Is it as tight and creative as it could be? I’m a great believer in the concept that the more you write, the better you get – BUT you can stagnate if you never get out there and take a workshop or course. One of the most useful things I’ve done in my career is to attend workshops through the Editors’ Association of Canada.
What’s that? You don’t want to be an editor? Well fine – but what better way to find out how to please editors than to find out what they do? I learned so much about writing by being exposed to what editors look for, that I eventually became an editor. Who knew? Plus, EAC provides great food for lunch.
And how about marketing your work? Everyone thinks of magazines and newspapers – BUT I make most of my living writing other things. Have you ever approached your municipality to ask if the Communications Department farms out writing jobs to freelancers? Some may not have a department to handle things like brochures, newsletters, tourism guides, etc. Others may still opt to contract out some of their writing jobs because their staff is so busy.
Local businesses, ad agencies, public relations firms, businesspeople who need ghostwriters for speeches and columns – have yourself a good brainstorm and see how many avenues you might pursue to expand your business. A few years ago, I even got paid to write humorous fortune cookies for a business group. “If all you bring home is the bacon, you end up fried.” OK, it’s corny, but it’s a living.
No BUTS about it – there’s more to successful freelancing than creative writing. Creative marketing helps a lot. Get out there and pitch a variety of markets.
REMEMBER: “Entrepreneur who put all her eggs in one basket end up scrambling for business!”
Hey folks, I just got word from Perrett’s Comedy Services that the one-liner I entered into Gene Perrett’s “Words to Live By” contest took SECOND PLACE! I’m so pumped. I studied with Gene at a humour-writing contest in Broken Bow, Nebraska in the late 1990s. Learned a lot from him. This is one of the coolest things ever! THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my joke!
You can read the winners here: http://comedywritersroom.com/Index_files/Page757.htm
OK folks, here it is. BY POPULAR DEMAND (namely, Adele Simmons), I am bringing out a 2nd Edition of The Writing Fairy book called The Shortest Story in the World. It is a new, improved, longer version. HOW, you might ask, can I make the shortest story in the world longer and still call it the shortest story in the world? You’ll just have to buy the book to find out. I will make it available on this website as soon as I have copies in hand. In the meantime, here is the book trailer I created for it. YES, I created a book trailer – with the help of my genius guru husband, Rich. I took his Book Trailer 101 course at Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, and it was fantastic! For info on upcoming courses and workshops, visit http://booktrailer101.info
OK, folks. Watch for The Writing Fairy to bring out something new and exciting in the next few weeks! Got you curious?
This appeared in WCDR’s “Word Weaver” newsletter in 2009:
One of the most difficult things beginning freelance writers tackle is the concept of marketing. People think that in order to make a living writing, all they have to do is write. NOT!
Like operating any business, freelancers have to think about a whole lot of other things such as invoicing, bookkeeping, paying taxes – and attracting clients who will offer work that enables writers to invoice, have books to keep and taxes to pay.
Marketing your work takes time and can be accomplished in many different ways. I’d like to share two methods in this column that might surprise you. The first is to write with creativity, especially your leads. The initial few sentences in any piece of writing are the most critical, especially in today’s hectic world where there are so many things competing for readers’ time. People read headlines and leads, and if those aren’t interesting, they often move on to the next article. It’s important to write an attention-grabbing lead. Then, of course, the rest of the piece has to maintain that level of interest.
How does this tie in with marketing? You never know who’s out there reading your bylined material. Several times in my career, I have been contacted by clients who read my articles in newspapers and magazines and liked my writing style. They contacted me. Imagine that … reverse marketing!
The other method I suggest is to be reliable. Get back to your editor with good solid writing by deadline day within the word count asked for, and you stand a good chance of being hired again. Does that sound too basic? Just ask editors how they feel about this. I’ve sat on the editing side of the desk for years, and it can be a challenge to find reliable writers. As I’ve said many times, I’d rather hire a good reliable writer than a brilliant flake. A little professionalism goes a long way in this biz.
There are many other ways to market your work – business cards, brochures, flyers, newsletters, workshops, etc. But the best marketing is still word of mouth. Be sure you give them something good to talk about!